twitter-logoIt was reported yesterday that Twitter won the exclusive rights to stream 10 of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games globally during the upcoming season.  Originally, Facebook, Amazon and Verizon were reported as the front-runners to be able to stream games live digitally, but then Facebook dropped out last week.  It looked like Twitter was left on the sidelines, but they ended up picking up the streaming rights.

For years, Twitter spent three years working on its relationship with the NFL, and it paid off on Tuesday (April 5).  When Twitter first secured the rights to stream NFL game highlights on the social network and sell ads against them three years ago, the company won the big one, being one of the lowest bidders.  In the end, the bill for the 10 game slate was in the low double-digit millions.  Twitter didn’t comment on the exact price.

Everybody on Twitter will be able to watch 10 Thursday Night Football games on the social network live, regardless of if they’re logged in or not, and it’ll all be free  Another cool thing is that NFL teams and players can use Periscope to hose live streams before the games.  The league will be distributing in-game highlights through Twitter.  As far as TV broadcasts are concerned,, NBC and CBS will still be showing the games, which will be simulcast on Twitter.  A majority of ads will be shown in Twitter streams won’t be sold by Twitter.

About one-third of the ad inventory for each game’s live stream will be sold by Twitter.  Twitter will be selling the ads through their Amplify program that debuted in 2013.  This is so media companies can distribute their videos on Twitter, allowing them to make money by working with Twitter to sell ads against those clips.

The NFL is handing Twitter some of the most valuable live content available (not the most valuable, as Sunday games are more valuable than Thursday games).  Also, Twitter’s ad sales team was put through something like a training camp by the NFL after letting the social network take the ad-sales lead for the league’s videos last year as part of the renewed Amplify deal.

Finally, the deal will boosts the social network’s claim as the domain for the live content and help address their struggle for audience growth.

CEO Jack Dorsey had this to say in terms of the importance of live content to Twitter during the company’s most recent earnings call:

“Twitter is live: live commentary, live connections, live conversations. Whether it’s breaking news, entertainment, sports, or everyday topics, hearing about and watching a live event unfold is the fastest way to understand the power of Twitter.”

Will this convince more people about Twitter and allow its audience to grow beyond the 800 million already using the platform every month?  We’ll have to see.

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